Ideas are great things, but make sure you treat them as tools. It is great to be open minded and to listen to all of them; but at the same time, maintaining independence and a critical mind in examining them. It’s good to be in control of the ideas, rather than to let the ideas control you, because that is when you lose perspective as well as your ability to think clearly and objectively. While some may inevitably trend toward some ideas, and away from others, it is good never to buy into someone else’s narrative hook, line, and sinker. Rather, seek to create your own narrative. This is what being a free thinker is all about.
Ockham’s Razor is a simple concept. Essentially, it says that when two explanations have equal amount of explaining power, it is best to take the simpler explanation over the more complex one. I have discussed it in passing within previous articles, but I really believe that this concept deserves a post of its own. This is because Ockham’s Razor is an extremely valuable concept in debating theists, who like to rationalize away the problems with their belief system, and really tip a debate with two seemingly viable explanations for an event in favor of the atheist. When used properly, this logical tool literally cuts through the bull that I often see Christian apologists and other theists try to peddle.
I recently had a conversation with someone over the problem of evil, and why bad things happen in our world. My explanation is simple: Bad things happen because God is not in control of the universe. There is no evidence this being exists, and the state of the universe seems incompatible with this being’s core characteristics. An omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being cannot exist because such a deity could have made the universe without evil; it would know that this universe would lead to evil, and an omnibenevolent being would seek to minimize evil. Since evil exists, this model of God cannot exist.
At the risk of sticking my neck out with a highly unpopular opinion within American politics, I would like to discuss the topic of rights, and how they seem incompatible with an atheistic worldview. This is because rights often seem to be seen as a sort of objective moral standard, while from an atheistic perspective, the world is rather nihilistic, and any morals that exist come from humans, not outside of it.
As we have discussed in my previous post on the argument from morality, objective morality is pretty problematic from an atheistic perspective. Most atheists I have talked to do not believe it exists at all, and while I attempt to argue that it does in the most basic of forms, at the very most all we can establish is an inclination towards certain behaviors and an avoidance of others. The actual morals themselves in practice are largely subjective, and there is a massive amount of latitude that exists in implementation. However, the idea of natural rights is normally seen as a form of objective or deontological morality, and can be justified in one of two ways, or even a combination of the two ways. Some people argue for natural rights by appealing to God, while others just claim they are self evident and can be derived from nature. Both of these justifications are flawed, as I will explain below.
So, it has come to my attention that someone has responded to my article on what would convince me to believe in God. On several points, he seemed to agree with me; many Christians often fail to relate to their audience in ministering to them. However, he also disagreed with me on some of these points, and I will now address his arguments.
His first criticism is the fact that I argued that the evidence for God should be undeniable. He responded by pointing out that people can deny whatever they want. This is most certainly true, people can and do deny anything for any reason. There is even a website out there dedicated to the belief in a flat earth. However, what I meant in my original article was that it should be undeniable to any reasonable person. I would argue that belief in God, when approached from a position of agnostic atheism, is not reasonable.
A problem with his proposition, however, was that he included an article and a video which are both relatively controversial to me. First, he posted this video from Stand to Reason, which basically pulled a Romans 1 about how God has revealed himself through nature, and tried to point out that just because God does not reveal himself in a way I am comfortable with, does not mean he does not exist.
When one really thinks about it, a lot of Christianity acts as mind control. While I may tackle different aspects of this in other posts, I want to start with the basics here and focus on the story of salvation, especially as taught to children in more fundamentalist sects of Christianity. As we know, children are particularly vulnerable to being taught nonsense, and are biologically predisposed to accept authority figures like their parents and teachers without much protest. At such a young age, their very conception of life is determined by parental guidance and other similar authority figures, potentially creating long lasting consequences in their lives. As the Bible itself teaches, “start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). While this is obviously not a foolproof method, it is effective overall, and it can be difficult to extricate itself from such a mindset at a later age. Even more alarming details about the indoctrination of children, as we will see in this post, are some eerie parallels to literal brainwashing.
So, what are children often taught thoughout Christianity? Well, it can vary from one family to another, depending on the denomination and intensity of belief, but the salvation story among fundamentalists basically goes like this. First, children are taught about how everyone is a sinner. The most common Bible verse used to point out that we are all sinners is Romans 3:23, which states: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Moreover, people are taught, due to the concept of original sin from the Adam and Eve story in Genesis 2-3, that people are born sinful, even though they did nothing wrong; “it makes us objects in a cruel experiment whereby we are created sick and commanded to be well”. They are then taught that “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).